Research project to design ‘dementia-friendly’ neighbourhoods

Dementia-focused project is one of six awarded £20m government funding

A new research project will investigate ways to create ‘dementia-friendly neighbourhoods’ to make everyday life easier for people with the condition.

Academics from seven European universities will examine how everything from changing road layouts to training shop staff could make towns and cities more welcoming places. Neighbourhood profiles will also be developed to highlight areas with high levels of dementia and help inform decisions on local service provision.

The five-year project is one of six studies into dementia that have been allocated £20m of government money.

People with dementia and their families will have a variety of roles in the research, from advisers to co-researchers.

Mike Howorth, who is employed by Greater Manchester West Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust, has dementia and will be involved as a researcher. He said involving people with dementia and their carers “will make this project invaluable.”

The other five projects will examine: lifestyle changes that can reduce the risk of dementia; training care home staff to support agitated patients; the future financial costs of dementia; living well with the condition; and how visual aids can improve wellbeing for patients and carers.

All the studies will be overseen by the National Institute for Health Research and the Economic and Social Research Council.

Dr James Pickett, head of research at the Alzheimer’s Society, welcomed the focus on improving quality of life for the 800,000 people in the UK with dementia, but notes that the area remains underfunded.

“While this is a great step, it is also vital to highlight that dementia research is drastically underfunded and much more research needs to be done to find effective treatments for people today and a cure for tomorrow.”